Martinsville, IN (March 25, 2020) - Recognizing with schools closing and child care options at a minimum parents and carers may be struggling to entertain their kids, many American Camp Association (ACA) Accredited Camps (and growing) are rallying to keep the camp experience accessible with Virtual Camps. These camps are aimed at parents and carers whose regular Spring break plans were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are likely juggling working from home with providing activities for their children.
Transforming their usual Spring Break camp to online versions, these virtual camps are run primarily through social media channels, YouTube and Zoom and include daily programming and parent resources. Activities vary from nature walks, science talks, arts and crafts, patches to earn at home, and homework help, all while allowing kids to shelter in place. With inclusivity always at the forefront of the ACA camp network, the virtual camps are not only for those who are regulars at their physical camps, but available to all who are able to tune in on the internet.
“This was something we decided to do as our schools were closing here in Colorado and I saw a need among my friends who had kids. They were struggling and overwhelmed with the idea of what to do with their kids for two weeks at the last minute,” said Sandra Allen, Assistant Camp Director of Sky High Ranch, of their decision to launch camp virtually. “Many were having vacations, trips, and more cancelled. We decided that it is an important time to step up and help offer ideas to families who need support, as well as support kids who are struggling with decisions that are beyond their control.”
Many of these camps are starting their online camp programs the week of March 24th, and some - like Camp Stomping Ground are offering free classes from 9:00am - 4:30pm Monday through Friday. Classes range from smoothie making, to fitness, to science classes. Below is a list of just a handful of ACA accredited camps participating.
These virtual camps are not just aimed at keeping all the benefits of attending camp alive, but also to support one another in such a tumultuous present.
“My ultimate goal is to ensure that this virtual camp is not marketed to any specific population of ‘campers’. Although this is being run through Girl Scouts of Colorado, I have been trying to ensure that our activities are gender-neutral and can be done by any age level. I want to engage kids in a variety of ways, offer parents some online resources, and provide connections with one another during this trying period,” Allen adds.
The benefits of attending camp are now clearer than ever before, thanks to the ACA’s 5 Year Impact Study: a 5-year long research project looking into the effects of camp on their campers and how camps prepare youth for college, careers, and adulthood. Some of the key takeaways from the study were camp helps develop independence, experience outdoor fun and adventure and develop an affinity for nature, relaxation, accepting difference, living life unplugged and creating self-confidence. Plus, how to make a good S’more.
As with other businesses and industries, The ACA is playing close attention to the ongoing developments related to COVID-19, but at this time Camps are still working hard to prepare for a fun and educational summer ahead. The ACA will continue to follow the CDC's guidance as we provide the camp community with resources and education. We encourage camps and families to use our webpage, Coronavirus – Information for Camps, for resources that include updated CDC information, FREE camp communicable disease webinars, Association of Camp Nursing responses and much more continuously updated content. As of today the ACA remains optimistic that camp will happen this summer.
About American Camp Association:
The American Camp Association® (ACA) is a national organization with more than 12,000 individual members and 3,100 member camps. ACA is committed to collaborating with those who believe in quality camp and outdoor experiences for children, youth, and adults. ACA provides advocacy, evidence-based education and professional development and is the only independent national accrediting body for the organized camp experience. ACA accredits approximately 2,400 diverse camps nationally. Accreditation provides public evidence of a camp’s voluntary commitment to the health, safety, and overall well-being of both campers and staff. For more information, visit ACAcamps.org or call 800-428-2267.